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DI Drive Tones

Discussion in 'Ask Justin Meldal-Johnsen' started by iceberg, Apr 23, 2010.

  1. iceberg


    Oct 30, 2006
    Silver Lake, CA
    Hey Justin,

    Thanks again for answering all our questions on here. I'm sure I speak for more than myself when I say your insight and influence has had a huge impact on my playing and tone.

    My question is this: Occasionally I don't have the option to track w/ an amp, just have to go straight DI (production/library music, quick demos, etc) and when I want a good drive tone it always sounds like crap.

    I've got some rad pedals (and a 62 RI P bass) that sound SICK through my rig (VT Bass, Xotic RC, GT2) but going only DI the sansamp pedals seem too tinny/trebly and the Xotic sounds like a crappy fuzz or something. (Btw using the Xotic to overdrive the VT sounds AMAZING through an amp).

    I've also got a Tone Hammer with a busted switch I gotta send it Aguilar for a fix, but that will be an option for the chain again soon, too.

    Running through an amp sim (Logic guitar amp, Amplitube, etc) helps a bit but it still sounds pretty digital.

    Any recommendations for fixing this? Are the plugin amp sims the best option? Thanks for any insight!

  2. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    Damn, iceberg...that's a toughie. Tone Hammer will most certainly work. MXR Bass DI + will work, Sans Amp ParaDriver will work. I enjoy running some of my overdrives into DI's, I enjoy the character it imparts. And I don't run into the same problem when running a GT2 or VT Bass into a DI, they don't sound tinny to me.

    What kind of DI are you using?

  3. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    If I may butt in to JMJ's place for a minute :), my first thought when you say the VT etc. sound tinny or crappy is that perhaps you have them set up more as distortion effects as opposed to more subtle amp emulations? That is definitely the type of scenario where those pedals will sound great going into a thick amp, but will often not sound so great into a clean recording channel.

    If that's the case, then I'd recommend setting one of them up as a subtle amp emulator, and another one up as the overdrive effect that feeds into the "amp" pedal. I know you said you already tried overdriving the VT with the RC, but maybe with some re-thinking and tweaking of settings there is a solution to your needs right there. Maybe use the GT2 for its dirtier qualities instead of the RC, so the VT doesn't have to get driven hard for the distortion tone. The reason I say that is because the VT is known to sound kind of sucky at high-distortion settings, so it's better if you let the dirt happen first, and then get warmed and softened by the VT.
  4. gillento


    Oct 15, 2005
    Luxembourg, Europe
    Nordstrand pickups
    This is my experience as well!

    Xotic Bass BB or Tech21 GT2 into VT BAss
  5. iceberg


    Oct 30, 2006
    Silver Lake, CA
    JMJ - amazing call! DI situation has been sucking HARD at all the places I don't dig the tone. It's either been straight into interfaces or into an Avalon 737 (at the prod music studio), which I've found to be pretty sterile, but the dude there swears by it. Thoughts on Avalon stuff? All my hardcore analog friends are not fans it seems.

    I have an MXR DI too (...yeah I've shanghai'd a good amount of your sig chain:bag:) which I should put to use more often. I'll make sure to keep that in the chain, at least until the TH gets fixed.

    Bongomania - Thanks for your insight on the VT. I was reversing that and going VT cranked into subtle GT2, so I'll try your setup out this weekend.

    On a side note, I threw down a track at Cello today (now called East West apparently) and the engineer used a gnarly, probly 5 space rack unit tube thing as a DI so I didn't break out the M80. I thought about writing down what it was but I'll probably never be able/inclined to afford it. Anywho, I was running B:Assmaster > VT > Amp and got one of the sickest bass tones of my life. Was hoping to reamp through a Supersonic, but that got bumped priority wise and didn't happen. Might be able to swing it still before final mix (would be my first rodEo with a geetar amp!). Just wanted to share a quick tone WIN and my stoked state of mind!
  6. timmarks

    timmarks Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, D'Addario, Mesa
    I agree. You've got all the right stuff to do it. I use either the VT Bass or the EHX Black Finger as an "amp DI" with great results, although it's usually a more subtle setting and in tandem with a clean DI. The times that I've used one or the other to color the only DI signal have been good too, no loss of low end. I bet putting a more "dirty or fuzzy" pedal in front of the VT would get the fatter distortion you're looking for.
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    just to chime in...i'm more of a fan of amplitube than i am the avalon. if you're looking for a super clean deal, it's good, but to me it doesn't have a lot of balls by itself. however, as a platform to build upon, i think it's as good as any.

    btw, anyone who hasn't had their sound screwed over by an engineer or producer, please raise your hand. hmmm...nobody?


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